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Bus Story: Expectations

Her entrance onto the bus might have been missed, so quiet and careful she was in her approach. I noticed her after she had settled into a seat in the front, facing sideways. Likely in her late seventies, her hair, tucked into a small straw hat, has streaks of grey mixed in with the dark curls. Her arthritic hands hold tightly to a serviceable wooden cane, well used by the looks of the worn handle. Her eyes, dark and bright, fairly glitter in the morning light.

And all else recedes when she smiles.

It is not a big smile. It is the smile of child’s delight at the licks of a puppy on their face. It is the smile of a dad watching his children sleeping. It is both of the smiles of an older couple, silently knowing their bond. It is the smile of a mom watching her daughter prepare for her wedding day.

And in the radiance of it, I feel a peace settle over me that is often missing in these challenging days.

We expect her to show up half-naked and surrounded by sea foam but Aphrodite is with  us in varied and often surprising guises. Just like love.

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Bus Story: Balancing Act

The drone of bagpipes rolls around in my head as Enter The Haggis hits their stride in my playlist. As the sun barges its way into our rolling caravan, a young woman, with two-toned hair that would make Pepe le Pew swoon, decides to ignore the bus driver’s advice and stands in the center of the aisle without holding on to anything. I watch and wince as we roll around corners and hit bumps and she totters and lurches. She is taking it as a perseverance challenge, I suppose. I am not alone in the wincing-activity. All around her, people seated and standing flinch at each almost-fall; some even reach out halfway to catch her, should she topple over.

And finally, the combination of gravity and inertia can no longer be withstood. What seems to be a relatively small swerve is the proverbial straw and, with a little grunt, she crashes over and into no fewer than four people as she careens from one to the other, like a pinball whacked by the flipper.

Pushing yourself to limits is admirable. We should always strive to challenge ourselves in different ways. And it is equally important to be aware of the impact that these challenges might have on others; literally or figuratively.

Here endeth the lesson.

Bus Story: Access is Relative

George Ezra’s unique voice rumbles in my ears as Pandora shuffles through the eclectic mix of stations I have compiled over time. There is a lot to take in on today’s trip home: a giantess with embossed cowboy boots and shocking Sia-esque white hair, husky nerd dude in the ubiquitous black T-shirt who falls asleep while standing in the doorway, and the ghost.

You heard me.

Dressed in a white chiffon shift dress, with incongruously beaten up sneakers, her rust colored hair is in stark contrast to her pale, almost translucent skin. She holds a cellphone in one hand and, with the other, tries to access anything. But she has no substance, so the phone doesn’t know that she’s there at all. With a deep sigh that we can feel throughout the entire bus, she looks over the shoulder of the oblivious teen boy next to her and vicariously watches his life and friends as images play out on the little screen.

Technology has come a very long way in providing needed access to those with different needs and varying levels of capability. The next great hurdle, to my thinking, is finding a way for those who are lost in transition to interact with the living and, perhaps, find the peace they need to move on to the next place.

Bus Story: Packing For Adventure

Reaching into her backpack, she withdraws a mason jar filled with mixed nuts. After hunting for the few pecans, she sighs, screws the lid on and replaces it in the bag. A few moments later, she rummages around in the knapsack again and, this time, pulls out another mason jar; this one filled with dry cereal. And reaches back in and, to my astonishment, her hand emerges with a full half-gallon of 2% milk. After adding milk to the cereal, back the milk goes, and out comes a long handled spoon. As my mouth drops open, she also surfaced what must have been a supersized container of blueberries. Adding berries to the jar completed, back they go and she sets in to eating.

As we arrived at the first stop downtown, she finishes her meal, and all the dishes return to her backpack. Squinting at the sun, as she stands, she impossibly pulls a full sized parasol from the pack and snaps it open as she steps onto the sidewalk, and I watch it bob up and down as she wends her way away through the morning crowd.

It appears that a Bag of Holding may come in different styles and, despite what you think, they aren’t just for keeping swords, potions, and big piles of gold.

Bus Story: Presentation Judgement

To say she has a “sinister aspect” would be understating the situation. Significantly. Garbed in dark folds of dense grey serge, she moves with sharp, jerky actions, as if she were being startled over and over again. Milky eyes harboring a greenish cast peer out from under a hood, framed by the limpest, darkest black hair there ever was. Piercings, of which there are several, give the impression of metal teeth protruding from her mouth.

She appears to be uninterested in the rest of the riders on the bus. Save one. A small, pink-cheeked cherub of a child sits on the lap of her father across the aisle. The woman stares intently at the child, muttering something unintelligible under her breath. I can see her hands, gloved in black as they are, manipulating what looks like a brass charm bracelet. Suddenly, her rheumy eyes dart up from the child to take in a woman who has just climbed aboard; and she gasps, audibly.

The new arrival is light and calm personified. Her open features, set off by sapphire blue eyes, are framed by auburn hair, swept upward into a stylish crown of braids. Her long coat is pearlescent with silver accents and on her wrists, a series of bracelets that catch the morning sun.

The Woman in Light stands, after boarding, right next to the father and his precious little daughter. I noticed that she, too, can’t take her eyes from the child, and in her pale and manicured hands, she fiddles with something. Like the other, her lips are moving with words we can’t hear.

Suddenly, as the bus reaches a stop and the doors open, the Woman in Light moves with the speed of a striking viper towards the child, reaching out to snatch her from her father’s lap. But her hands are stopped, inches from the child by a barrier; an unseen wall of pure love and protection. As her hands collide with the shield, the Dark Woman grunts slightly with the effort of holding it in place. With a snarl that belies her aspect, the Woman in Light gathers her coat around her and flees the bus, other riders in front of her suddenly shoved aside by invisible hands.

The child’s father, still quite stunned by what just happened in front of him and his child, stammers out a “thank you” in a reverent whisper to the Dark Woman. She smiles and nods in return. At the next stop, she rises and departs the bus, leaving those of us who witnessed her heroic act to remember stories we’ve been told, admonishments about books and covers, and, most significantly, to re-examine our deep seated myth-based biases about women with magic.